Snowstorm forces Mother Bethel A.M.E. to scale back celebration

    The first African-American church in the country today will celebrate the 250th birthday of its founder, albeit without some of its scheduled events.
    The Reverend Richard Allen was born a slave to one of Philadelphia’s founding families, eventually buying his own freedom.

    The first African-American church in the country today will celebrate the 250th birthday of its founder, albeit without some of its scheduled events.

    The Reverend Richard Allen was born a slave to one of Philadelphia’s founding families, eventually buying his own freedom. He became a preacher at St. George’s United Methodist on 4th Street, but left in 1787, when the leaders of that church enforced segregated prayers. He established a new church in a former blacksmith shop, calling it Mother Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church.

    The current pastor is Mark Kelly Tyler, who says this weekend the congregation at St. George’s will join Mother Bethel for service.

    Tyler: America is greatly divided, and if Mother Bethel and St. George’s can worship together in peace and harmony on Sunday morning, then perhaps even Democrats and Republicans can reach across the aisle and find thing in common rather than live divided.

    Later this summer a 150 year old marble bust of Richard Allen, which had been lost, will be delivered to Mother Bethel A.M.E. for exhibition.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.